There's no place like a home on ice

Tuesday, March 1, 2005

The thought of ice fishing makes me shiver.

In Minnesota, it's a popular pastime. People even build structures on the ice, something that I doubt would pass muster with Cape Girardeau city inspectors.

At any rate, a recent wire service story described one such ice house on a frozen lake. The house comes complete with handmade woodwork, stove, television, stereo system and beds to sleep as many as eight people.

The ice house includes a TV screen hooked up to an underwater camera to show what kind of fish are swimming around in the cold water.

Many ice houses now are built on wheels so they can moved around to better fishing spots when needed.

Personally, I'm not much of a fisherman, although I do like to eat fish. I just prefer to let someone else catch the fish and cook it.

And I certainly don't want to fish for my food in subfreezing temperatures.

I'm told that people up north used to sit on buckets atop frozen lakes in the dead of winter to fish. That was before today's heated structures.

But even with a heated structure, I can't imagine camping out on a giant slab of ice unless you're a polar bear.

I confess I'm just not much of a winter guy.

Snow is great if it's pictured on a postcard. But I don't like actually being out in the white stuff.

I spent one winter living and working in the Chicago area. One winter was one too many. There was too much snow, ice and bitter cold. Just starting your car in the morning was a major challenge.

In winter, people in Chicago don't so much drive to work as slide. I still remember the day I almost crashed my car three times on the way to the office.

By the time I arrived at work I was ready to move to Honduras.

All of this is to say that I really hate winter.

And just when I was starting to think about spring, along came Monday's winter-like, wind-blown cold temperatures.

Thankfully, the leather front seats in my van are heated. There's a high setting and a low setting.

My whole family fights over who gets to use the van in the winter. We have another van, but it doesn't have what our family popularly refers to as "butt warmers."

Bailey, our 9-year-old, sees it as pure hardship to have to travel to school in any vehicle that doesn't have heated seats.

These warm seats make a winter drive a lot nicer. It's not like stretching out on a sunny beach in Florida, but it's a close second.

The only member of our family that likes cold weather is our Sheltie. She loves to run around in the snow.

Fortunately for the rest of us, spring is almost here.

I'm sure that's sad news to ice-fishing Minnesotans who have been given deadlines by state officials to get their houses off the ice before it melts. Monday was the deadline in the southern part of the state. In the northern part of the state, the winter houses can stay on the ice until March 15.

After that, you're sure to see your sport sinking fast.

But most Americans would just as soon never set foot in a house where melting is a major hazard.

Mark Bliss is a staff writer for the Southeast Missourian.

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